If you've ever overheard anyone talking about needing extra spoons, this probably isn't referring to the literal need for another teaspoon, but rather a reference to chronic illness. The concept of "needing extra spoons" refers to something people with chronic illness call The Spoon Theory. Imagine that a healthy person has an unlimited number of spoons, whereas a chronically ill person has to choose how they spend their spoons wisely with the limited energy they have. "When you are healthy, you expect to have a never-ending supply of 'spoons'. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many 'spoons' you are starting with" as Christine Miserandino, the creator of the Spoon Theory, explains. Simple self-care tasks such as getting ready for work, making breakfast, and a commute require spoons that an otherwise healthy person wouldn't even think of as taking up energy. The theory explains that "when your 'spoons' are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow's 'spoons', but just think how hard tomorrow will be with fewer 'spoons'."
This theory has resonated with the community of chronically ill people who often refer to themselves as spoonies. We recently saw Paris Jackson and Macaulay Culkin get tattoos to symbolise this struggle. Read on to see other ways people have permanently marked their personal struggles with chronic illness.